Was Couple That Mysteriously Vanished 11 Years Ago Killed in Murder-for-Hire Plot?

March 02, 2016
By: Michelle Sigona

Photo by: FBI


It may be one of the biggest missing-person mysteries in the Mid-Atlantic.

A young couple and their vehicle vanished into thin air way back in 2005, and there has not been one solid clue to help authorities figure out exactly what happened. The FBI says 34-year-old Danielle Imbo and 35-year-old Richard Petrone Jr. were dating at the time they vanished. Relatives on both sides say the couple were parents to one child each, and they would never choose to leave their families in limbo.

It was Feb. 19, 2005 when the FBI says Imbo and Petrone walked out of Abilene’s bar on South Street in Philadelphia. Reports say that on that particular evening they’d met another couple and had a few drinks. After leaving the bar, they got into a black 2001 Dodge Dakota pickup, and then disappeared without a trace.

No calls, no activity on their accounts, no sign of the truck — for more than a decade, there’s been nothing. Three years after their weird disappearance, the FBI made a public announcement about the case: one that was shocking to many. According to NJ.com, agents were no longer treating this as a simple missing-persons investigation. In fact, it’s now being handled as a murder-for-hire” situation. But who would want to harm these two? If the FBI or other local investigators know, they aren’t saying.

CrimeFeed reached out to the Philadelphia division of the FBI. Special Agent William F. Sweeney, Jr. said, “Last year, around the 10th anniversary of their disappearance, we did receive some promising leads which we continue to follow up on. So this case remains very active – and we will keep pushing. There’s a sense of closure that both families need, and the victims deserve justice.”

According to ABC 6, the FBI believes not only was this a professional hit, but it’s likely that more than one person was involved. Christian Zajac with the FBI said in 2015 to news stations, “This didn’t just happen. We feel this was an orchestrated act. A 3,000 pound truck and two people do not simply go missing.”

Around the same time of this announcement, CBS Philadelphia said a new FBI Cold Case Task Force would be taking over the case and combing through the leads.

Leads, according to investigators, have come in from all over America, but not one has panned out. Searches of land and water have been conducted over the years, but nothing has come of them.

Imbo at the time was in the process of separating from her husband, who according to reports is not considered a person of interest. She had a son when she vanished, who is now eleven. ABC 6 said Joe Imbo, the estranged husband, shared angry words with Petrone over the phone only days prior to his disappearance. Despite that argument, authorities say they’ve questioned Imbo a number of times. “Joseph Imbo has never been named a possible suspect, but he hasn’t been ruled out either,” ABC 6 aid.

Petrone left behind a daughter, who was married last year.

Investigators say at the time of her disappearance Imbo stood 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed around 120 pounds. She is known to have fair skin, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. Imbo has a flower tattoo on the bottom of her back. Reports say she was last seen wearing a cream-colored sweater, blue jeans and a black jacket.

Petrone was last known to be 200 pounds and he stands 5 feet 9 inches tall. Reports say he had two tattoos, one on his left arm and another with clowns on his right arm. At the time he disappeared, Petrone was possibly wearing jeans, sneakers and a grey hooded sweatshirt.

At this point, there is still an active $50,000 reward offered. Sweeney added, “We are asking the public to share any information they have that could help us build out that picture of what happened to Danielle and Richard that night. Something that may not seem important by itself, may be very important to us.”

If you know anything about the disappearance of Danielle Imbo or Richard Petrone, Jr. please contact the FBI directly.

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